From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
How do you make a secure record of a debt or exchange if you can't read or write? Cut a number of notches across a stick to symbolize the assets involved, then split the wood lengthwise: you now have two tamper-proof receipts, one for each party to the transaction. The split tally method formed the basis for much of European bookkeeping between medieval times and the modern era. [more inside]
"They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing... Once allied with but now increasingly hostile to the Republican hierarchy, conservative media is shaping the party’s agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections."
Slate takes a look at some of the concepts in Andrew L. Yarrow's Thrift: The History of an American Cultural Movement including various methods of teaching thrift to children. One tool used was a chart that teaches children how much it cost their parents to support them.
The Trickster Prince is academic and historian Matt Houlbrook's blog about the ephemera and little-known stories of the English inter-war period (and before) with a focus on class-jumping, queer narratives, "faking it", and urban society in the 20s and 30s.
Rodrigo Davis of the MIT Center for Civic Media is currently researching crowdfunding for civic and community purposes. Some of the issues he covers includes the ethics of crowdfunding (including Kickstarter's seduction guide debacle and Gawker's attempt to crowdfund a video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack), a case study of Kansas City's crowdfunding campaign for their bikeshare program, a timeline of online crowdfunding since 2000, and how the Statue of Liberty was made possible via crowdfunding.
Food Fight: Does Healthy Food Have to Be More Expensive? In which the blog Get Rich Slowly chronicles an argument about nutrition vs cost and then invites readers to chime in.
Debt: The first five thousand years. Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber (previously) writes about "debt and debt money in human history" in Eurozine. Lots of thought-provoking stuff here; I'll put a sample in the extended description. (Via wood s lot.) [more inside]
Indeed, all three of Hitler’s prized leather whips were presents from high society ladies. : Christopher Clark reviews High Society in the Third Reich by Fabrice d’Almeida in the London Review Of Books.
An online gallery of Colonial American Currency. You can browse by colony. They also have images of early lottery tickets. Plus brief and informative essays on subjects such as The Value of Money in Colonial America. You can also relive the Copper Panic of 1789-1799.
Ever wondered what old amounts of money would be worth today? Or what you could buy with your current salary if you went back 200, 400, or 600 years? Now you can find out with a tool that converts English currency from 1270 onwards into today's prices. Based on Treasury records, it tells you that Mr Darcy's £10,000 a year would now be worth nearly £350,000, or that your house would only have to be worth the equivalent of £500 now to qualify for the vote after 1832.